Great Smoky Mountains National Park fire management officials plan to conduct a controlled burn of an 80-acre field east of Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove. Weather permitting, burn operations will occur on Wednesday, March 25.
The selected field will be burned as part of a cost-effective strategy to prevent the open fields from being reclaimed by forest. These seasonal controlled burns help perpetuate native herbaceous species that provide high quality cover and foraging opportunities for a diversity of wildlife including deer, turkeys, and ground nesting birds.
“By conducting controlled burns, we are able to maintain the openness of the cove to preserve and maintain its historic character while also reducing non-native species,” said Fire Management Specialist Dave Loveland.
The Park contracts to mow about 1,000 acres of fields that are clearly visible from the Cades Cove Loop Road annually. Other fields that are less visible from the loop road, totaling around 1,500 acres, are kept open by burning or mowing on a three-year rotation.
The loop road and historic structures will remain open to visitor use, but brief delays and temporary closures of side roads may occur to ensure public safety during burn operations. Park staff will be present to answer questions during operations at overlooks and parking areas.
Visitors should expect to see fire activity and smoke during controlled burn operations. Fire managers ask that motorists reduce speed in work zones, but refrain from stopping in the roadways. If smoke is present, roll your windows up and turn on your headlights.
For more information on the use of prescribed burns in Great Smoky Mountains NP, visit our website http://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/nature/wildlandfire.htm.